‘Nothing irregular’: Officials defend compensation for Davao City hospital

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 12) — It’s just right for the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SMPC) to get the highest amount of cash advances for COVID-19, officials said as some lawmakers questioned why the Davao City hospital got more than any other health facility across the country.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation disclosed in a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the SPMC received the highest amount of compensation under its interim reimbursement mechanism fund at ₱326 million.

READ: Senators question PhilHealth's issuance of funds in January to hospitals intended for pandemic

During an inquiry at the House of Representatives on alleged PhilHealth anomalies on Wednesday, Minority Leader Benny Abante pointed out that the Philippine General Hospital got only ₱263 million, when it’s a COVID-19 referral hospital in Metro Manila, the region with the most number of coronavirus infections.

“What is the preference all about?” Abante asked.

PhilHealth Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas said the SPMC had the highest number of reimbursements and claims filed in 2019 – the basis for the allotment it received this year.

Hindi po ang basis nito ay kung ilan ang na-admit na pasyente na may COVID (The basis is not how many COVID-19 patients were admitted)… but the historical claims of 2019,” Pargas said.

It had nothing to do with the SPMC being located in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, Malacañang made clear in a statement.

“We find nothing irregular in the PhilHealth Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) allocation of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“Historically, SPMC has had the biggest amount of claims due to its regular provision of healthcare services to patients all over Mindanao,” he added.

Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire in a media briefing said the SPMC is the biggest hospital in the country with 1,500 beds, even catering to specialized cases.

“They have high technology there kasi nga (because) we are trying to prime this hospital to be one of the leaders in Asia,” Vergeire said.

According to the Palace, the SPMC had a total of 76,586 admissions and 586,278 outpatients last year, with an estimated income of ₱1.2 billion.